We were piecing together the depressing events that led to the death of a donkey. A young man from Southbar on his way to the Mannar railway station noticed a donkey seemingly in tragic pain. He rang the Donkey Clinic & Education Centre (DCEC) at 5 o’clock that morning. Alhathir, the DCEC manager was still half asleep when he fielded the call. After a quick wash of the face he called Kathafi, the donkey welfare assistant and both of them sped off in the donkey rescue vehicle. On arrival, they witnessed the donkey’s terrible condition. Most likely, the donkey had collided with a lorry plying the dark stretch of road to the fishing village of Southbar. They gently laid the donkey inside the truck and took it back to the DCEC. Very little could have been done to save the donkey which passed away an hour later.
⚠️ Warning: The following posts contain images that may be disturbing to some readers.
A Release – But From What? Admission Number: 127
The next day the DCEC crew faced another tragedy. A villager from Pesalai rang up the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS - local council) to report a sick donkey in front of his house. The PS in turn informed the DCEC. Alhathir and Kathafi rushed to the nearby village and upon examination, could not find any visible injury. However, the donkey appeared very distressed and couldn’t stand. The only conclusion was that it had been bitten by a snake. Sadly, on the way back to the centre, the donkey died. Sometime later the poor donkey was buried in a dignified way.
All its Christmases at Once - Admission Number: 128
DCEC manager Alhathir was driving in front of the De La Salle school campus when he noticed a donkey with a nasty injury on its front foot and hoof. It was not a fresh wound and probably sustained by running through a barbed wire fence. To catch the donkey was no easy feat. Alhathir recruited Kathafi and Ainkaran to round up the donkey. Back at the DCEC the wounds were cleaned, the maggots removed and proper treatment administered. The wounds have started to heal rapidly.
Tamed yet Causing Trouble - Admission Number: 128
The Sri Lankan forces love their animals! A naval officer from the Nadukuda navy camp informed us that a donkey was making a nuisance of itself and asked for our help. It turned out to be an unusual request. Uncharacteristically, this donkey was already well tamed but was using this advantage to its benefit by approaching scores of people on their way home from work and grabbing their shopping bags and food parcels. The donkey would come to hand, grab the food but would aim a well-targeted kick if the food was not handed over.
People felt scared of this menacing animal and avoided going outside. Knowing it had a winning strategy, the donkey then started visiting other villages with the same purpose in mind and terrifying the residents in the bargain. It was a job and a half to catch the offending donkey. The DCEC team and navy officers faced much difficulty. The donkey even bit one of the navy officers when he came close to lassoing it. There was no way the donkey wanted to surrender its freedom. Finally the donkey was caught. For the safety of the residents Alhathir decided to take it back to the DCEC to socially rehabilitate it.
Rehabilitated and Evolving
After the death of Kelvin donkey, and Lencie Harding from Melbourne wanting another sponsored donkey to replace ‘Kelvin’, we decided that the Nadukuda donkey would be its replacement. Already more intensive care and attention has been showered on the new Kelvin. Its low body condition is starting to improve and its aggressive behaviour is receding.
The DCEC ‘Main Roads’ Department
Caring for donkeys is the primary function of the DCEC but engaging in other ways to develop the community is a priority too. But who would have thought we’d be responsible for road works! Access to the DCEC from the main Olaithoduwai Road has always posed a challenge. If we wanted reliable road access we would have to construct it ourselves! This is exactly what Ainkaran and Kathafi were tasked to do. Over two days the guys spread the gravel on the rough path, then levelled and compacted it. The new stretch of road now makes travel easier for DCEC visitors and their neighbours.
Bridging Lanka’s long-time partner, Mannar’s Association for the Rehabilitation of Differently Abled People (MARDAP), brought twelve of their trainee teachers to the DCEC so they gain an insight into our donkey programs including donkey assisted therapy. They were surprised by the breadth and depth of the work and responded well to the presentations by Alhathir and Kumanan. They also enjoyed playing with the donkeys and especially feeding the cute foals with chickpeas. In response MARDAP director, Sister Vasanthi and the teachers enthusiastically asked whether they could bring the MARDAP children and other teachers for a DCEC visit and a cook up on site. The answer? Of course!
For several months there were plans to vaccinate the staff against tetanus and rabies, especially for those who handle donkeys regularly. This was a precautionary measure to protect our staff from these nasty conditions. The procrastination finally ended when Alhathir arranged for a team of doctors to visit the DCEC, understand our circumstances and outline the procedure for free inoculations. Eventually the staff were all jabbed.
Our intention is not only limited to donkey welfare. We try hard to benefit people who live in the Catholic, Hindu and Muslim villages surrounding the DCEC. One way is through the IT and English classes we run through our centre. Recently we have increased our ‘educational’ thrust by agreeing to support two local primary schools, one each in Puthukkudiyiruppu and Olaithoduwai, both facing a real dilemma – a shortage of teachers. The request by the principals was for incentive payments to secure volunteer teachers to fill the gap. Bridging Lanka has agreed to cover these payments for the school year.
Return Visitors Bear Gifts
Michael and Elsa from New Zealand are return visitors. They visited two years ago and were amazed by the development of the donkey programs in that time. The intrepid couple run the Home & Abroad Animal Welfare agency in Sri Lanka which they founded in 1993. To our surprise and delight they brought with them a substantial amount of deworming medicine for our donkeys. For this beautiful act of generosity we are truly appreciative!
Report by Alhathir Shahul Hameed, Vijitha Johalinkam,
Kumanan Kowcik, Shyama & Jeremy
Animal Aid Abroad is a major partner and a proud financial supporter of the Donkey Clinic and Donkey Rescue Service.
Bridging Lanka is a public benevolent institution (PBI) with Charity status with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, Deductible Gift Recipient status and Charity Tax Concession status with the Australian Taxation Office. All donations are tax deductible.